The humble ice maker machine is one of the greatest inventions ever, providing winter-cold refreshment for hundreds of millions of people around the world and down through the ages.
Its incorporation into the common house refrigerator has improved lives and even contributed to rising levels of public health, for before the ice maker machine ice was commercially made on a large industrial scale and stored in warehouses – and we all know how the typical warehouse or factory looks, especially in those days!
In the days before an ice maker machine, ice was merely harvested from natural sources such as, mainly, frozen lakes. Winter ice would be harvested and stored in icehouses for year-round availability. Believe it or not, ice harvesting goes back a very long way. As early as four hundred years before christ ancient Persian engineers had already mastered a way of storing winter ice for use in the middle of the summer – in the desert!
These were no small ice makers but large affairs involving a big underground space with thick walls created out of a special mortar containing sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash in exact amounts! This compound was resistant to heat transfer, thereby greatly helping to keep everything nice and cool for as long as possible. A special system of windcatchers and indigenous irrigation also assisted in refrigeration, which, primitive as it was, was adequate enough to bring the temperature down to frigid levels even on the hottest summer days!
Naturally, only royalty could afford such a home ice maker back then. We are lucky today that portable ice makers exist for our convenience, wherever we might be. Incredibly, the advent of modern refrigeration technology was initially greeted by the public with extreme skepticism, and early businesses that tried to capitalize on it met with failure.